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The Last Word

News/Business. (2013)

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Russia 7, America 7, Elizabeth Warren 6, Us 6, Allstate 4, Obama 4, Chuck Hagel 3, Lehman 3, Washington 3, Chantix 3, Hagel 2, Ezra 2, Alice Rivlin 2, S&p 2, Valentine 2, Capella University 2, Geico 2, George W. Bush 1, Ms. Walter 1, Bill Nye 1,
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  MSNBC    The Last Word    News/Business.  (2013)  

    February 15, 2013
    10:00 - 11:00pm PST  

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information that been shapiro put out today, which is one of the foreign funders behind senator hagel that he has not disclosed formally is called friends of hamas, is that is in fact true would that lead you to vote against mr. hagel? >> you know i saw that information today also. that is more and more concerning. >> you can't take money from a terrorist organization and come from the united states senate and ask for a vote, can you? >> i am very troubled by it. >> i am very troubled by it, it being chuck hagel's imaginary connection to the organization, on a bright dot server, and apparently in rand paul's mind. that is who gets to vote to confirm the defense secretary, very troubled by this terrorist organization that he heard about in a chat room somewhere. don't feel so bad, rush, every country's got them, we just give them more power than most countries do. republicans filibustered chuck hagel's nomination yesterday, that has never happened before, no cabinet nominee has ever been blocked by a filibuster, we have been hit by meteors, but this
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was never done, now the senate is in recess, the confirmation will probably happen in a week and a half, unless of course we have to hear rand paul chair hearings on the birth certificate of the president, or something more compelling than us needing a defense secretary, than having 66,000 americans deployed in war. that does it for us. we'll see you back here monday, monday night for the premier of the documentary, "hubris, the selling of the iraq war". some watched the state of the union and said nothing new here.
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what were they watching? the follow-up. >> on tuesday i laid out a plan. >> president obama picking up right where he left off. >> i delivered my state-of-the-union address. >> with the standard laundry list. >> the laundry list of the familiar-sounding domestic proposals. >> high-quality, pre-school. >> more lip service. >> and liberalism. >> this is not the agenda many are looking for. >> tonight, i proposed working with states. >> an encouraging sign for education reform. >> make high equal pre school -- >> make the argument we just don't have the money. >> exhibit a, john boehner. >> at some point, somebody has to pay the bill. >> this works, we know it works. >> the question i really want to ask. >> i want to get to elizabeth warren. >> is about how tough you are. >> is her debut on the senate banking committee. >> pretty comfortable. >> can you identify when you last took the wall street banks to trial?
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>> they couldn't answer. >> i will have to get back to you. >> we have not had to do it -- >> folks, that is bs. >> don't have much incentive to follow the law. >> ezra klein holds out there are calling for bankers to go to jail. >> this is what she knows best. this was her moment. >> that is why she was sent to washington. >> also gets a triple a rating from standard employers. >> the weirdest thing happened in the days after the state of the union. my colleagues in the press, they watched the exact same speech i watched, i think. they heard the same policies i heard and a lot of them walked away saying kind of, nothing new here. the headline in the national journal was nothing big or bold about obama's state-of-the-union address, nothing big or bold. really?
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i had exactly the opposite take, i thought president obama's state of the union was shockingly bold. and the reason i say shockingly is that usually you get the second-term agenda during the re-election campaign. in fact, usually you get more in the second term agenda. politicians running for re-election are not known for being modest. the plans tend to be something like that every american gets a opponent -- pony, no, a unicorn, if you remember, that is what mitt romney's tax reform plan looked like. president obama's campaign election platform was kind of modest. if you remember his big convention speech the promises there were weirdly small and the policies to get to them, a bit vague. >> we can cut our oil imports in half by 2020, and support more than 600,000 new jobs in natural
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gas alone. so help me. help me recruit 100,000 math and science teachers within ten years. help us work the colleges and universities to cut in half the growth of tuition costs over the next ten years. you can choose a future where we reduce our deficit without sticking it to the middle class. i want to reform the tax code so that simple, fair, and ask the richer households to pay taxes on incomes over $250,000. >> a few more teachers, a bit more natural gas, lower deficit, tax reform, all good stuff. not that big, there was nothing big and specific on immigration reform, or climate change, it was popular tweets, not ambitious for the country. and that was the campaign, so it would have been careful for the second term, the ambitious was so big, so much in there, all the nights where i watched the
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infomercials, when you think there could be one more thing, turns out it irons shirts or in this case raises the minimum wage to $9, watch what i mean. >> more than half way towards the goal of $4 trillion in deficit reduction and medicare, i'm prepared to add proposals by the bowles commission. i put forward an american jobs act that independent economists say would create more than a million new jobs. >> but there is more. >> a bipartisan market-based solution to climate change, fix it first program. to put people to work as soon as possible on the most urgent repairs. i propose working with states to make high-quality pre-school available to every single child in america.
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>> but there is still more. >> the time has come to pass comprehensive immigration reform. we'll engage russia to seek further reduction in our arsenals. >> but i know you want more, what about eight matching steak knives? >> the bipartisan commission to approve the commission in america, for background checks to make it harder for criminals to get their hands on a gun. raise the federal minimum wage to nine an hour. >> they just had that guy there, saying i know you want more so we got you a steak knife. that is a lot that the president proposed to do. imagine for a moment that president obama actually does manage to pass every policy he proposed tuesday night. within a couple of years, every four-year-old in the country would have access to pre-school. the federal minimum wage would be adjusted. there could be a cap and trade program, limiting the carbon emissions, the tax cuts, infrastructure, schools, much,
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much more. taxes would be higher on the wealthy, by the way, and guns would be a lot harder to come by. and undocumented immigrants would have a path to citizenship. america would be a remarkably different country after this agenda, feeling different, looking different. now whether much of it would pass, that is an open question. but just going on the policies and ideals, make no mistake about it. this is going to be a big second term. joining me now is a very big thinker who just wrote a small book, a kindle single, called "here is the deal." good to see you. >> thank you, good to be here, ezra. >> so tell me how you see the pieces fit together, when you heard the sort of breath of the policy agenda, what do you think as the connecter?
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>> first of all i think you're right, this is a lot bolder than he laid out during the campaign. i think a big part of that, the political advisers said they don't want to hear boldness from you anymore. and then they dialled it back, and then up. starting with the speech. i think there is some, it doesn't explain it all. i still think trying to reduce in equality, and lift living standards for the majority of people whether it is the middle class or poor is something that has been at the top of president obama's mind since he was a candidate. and i think a lot of ideals in his speech connect back to that. >> i agree with that, i think inequality has become the rosetta stone in the last couple of years, what struck you in this? for me it was the pre-k side of it. i was not expecting that. what caught your eye? >> both of those, absolutely right. pre-k, right now, 3 and 4-year-old kids who are from relatively high education and
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income families get pre-k, and so part of what drives inequality is we have these big gaps when kids are in kindergarten. but the evidence is well, my reading on the minimum wage, tell me if you agree with it. it is not a free lunch, but doesn't slam the economy with a lot of job loss. there may be a little bit of job loss, but not too much. business absorbs the cost, they pass them on to the customers or stockholders in the form of lower profits. so it takes the income in the middle and redistributes it towards the bottom. who knows whether it has a serious chance of passing? but that is a serious chance of passing the inequality. >> and it is kind of a dirty word in american politics. but as i understand the white house's theory at this point in time i think they see the
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economy has having changed in certain ways, such as a lot of gains are going to keep up with it at the top. and a lot of gains are going to corporate profits. one role for the government to play, that sharing has to come from government policy. they see that as what you need to keep a strong consensus for sort of a pro-growth capitalism. i want to see if you agree with it. >> one of the things i remember talking about in 2008, when very few people knew who austin goolsby, he would say this is a really wonky thing, one thing very important to senator obama is the refundability of tax credits and cuts, the idea that if you're going to cut taxes you have to make sure you're doing it in a way to help people who are not paying that much in income tax. right, a big issue on the right, right? the 47%.
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but obama saw this issue as look, we have had a big increase in pre-tax inequality, market inequality. and also in the last 30 years we had the biggest tax cuts going to the top. he wanted to reverse it and have the bigger tax cuts going to the bottom. >> i just want you to know i knew who austin goolsby was in 2007. >> good to see you. >> and seriously, there is a single fact in the budget, a single number that explains a lot about what the president is planning right now, kind of a mind-blowing number. also, why do so many people in russia have cameras in their cars? and what does it have to do with the total destruction of the human race? [ male announcer ] any technology not moving forward
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we can't grow our economy and have a prosperous america with debt growing that fast. >> it is time to shake things up. >> ♪
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♪ ♪ >> oh, my god. is that -- alive, the founding director of the congressional budget office? is that alice riplin doing the harlem shake? it is. it is alice doing the shake. and she will talk more about the budget, that may rivet you're mind more. s gone for so long.. ...but he'd wait for her forever, for any reason, and would always be there with the biggest welcome home. for a love this strong, dawn only feeds him iams. compared to other leading brands, it has 50% more animal protein. ...to help keep rocky's body as strong as a love that never fades... if he ever lets her leave again.
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iams. keep love strong. tell me you have good insurance. yup, i've got... [ voice of dennis ] ...allstate. really? i was afraid you'd have some cut-rate policy. nope, i've got... [ voice of dennis ] the allstate value plan. it's their most affordable car insurance -- and you still get an allstate agent. i too have... [ voice of dennis ] allstate. [ normal voice ] same agent and everything. it's like we're connected. no we're not. yeah, we are. no, we're not. ♪ ask an allstate agent about the value plan. are you in good hands? vice president joe biden, has one of my favorite phrases in all of politics. he says don't tell me what you value, he says show me your budget and i will tell you what you value. keep that in mind, it may be one of the most mind-blowing facts on the budget. right now, the federal
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government spends $7, $7 on an elderly person for every one dollar it spends on a child. $7 for $1. you know the first person who would say that is kind of an outrage, my grandmother, can you imagine your grandmother hoarding the cookies, seven for them, one for the children? but it is true, america spends more money on the generation that built its past than the generation that will build it future. the nearly 80 million kids in america get 10%. here is the federal budget in a chart. 41% on adults through entitlement programs like medicaid and medicare, and social security. 20% going to other government functions, 10% to kids, and 6% to interest on the debt. and by the way, in five years it is projected that we'll be
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paying more on the debt than on the kids. which will put children dead last in the categories of things we spend our money on. kids are our future, but not so much in the budget. so that 10% that we currently spend on the kids, what do we spend it on? we spend the plurality of it on tax breaks for the parents, also on health care and education for older kids. a lot of states spend it on education. there is more funding at the state level than the federal level, we should note that. the care at the federal level, about $12 billion, we spend $12 billion on educating and caring for young children. they need a better lobbyist, this is what president obama is trying to change with the very ambitious pre-k programs. france has nearly universal enrollment. so did the uk and mexico? america is 28th behind the slovak republic.
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would your grandmother be happy to hear her children are getting as much education as in the slovak republic? and all 4-year-olds, it would provide incentives to states to enroll more 4-year-olds from middle income families. but the obama administration is not in the pre-school business, they're telling states do it your own way, you can customize it your own way as long as the programs meet a few quality standards. one is highly educated pre-school teachers. joining me now is the founding director of the budget office, a former member of the president's debt commission, and an excellent harlem shaker, my
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friend, alice rivlin, how are you? >> i'm fine. >> this is interesting in terms of what it will do to the private economy, at the moment doesn't seem to be doing all that much. one thing that is happening in the way we spend our money, we seem to be squeezing out a lot of the investments in the future, the investments in kids and research and education. and that actually seems to me like a more pressing problem we need to fix in the budget. >> oh, i agree, i think the real danger of not getting on top of the rising debt is for young people. it is not just that we won't spend as much on education, for example, but we won't spend as much as we need to spend on the economy, so when they grow up it will be more productive, like science as you mentioned and
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infrastructure. those will be crowded out, because those, a big portion of the spending is committed to programs for older people. and if those grow on the -- at the rate that they have been growing it will squeeze out almost everything else. >> and one of the other dangers about that, too, aside from the automatic programs like medicare is that we can do reduction in a dumb way, instead of cutting tax expenditures and cutting in health care, we cut deep into things like education. and the sequester, which seems more likely to go into effect than i think anybody thought months ago, the sequester hammers education, social security, tax expenditures, a lot of the programs. >> the sequester is truly dumb policy, from lots of points of view. it would endanger the growth of our economy right now.
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likely increase our unemployment rate. but it cuts in a really stupid way. program by program by equal percentages, and that means that things that we really care about and need to run the government and to grow the economy get cut just as much as things that we don't care as much about. >> one of the things about that, i think, is that when we talk about the deficit we tend to sort of -- and about the economy, we tend to talk about it in terms of what do we cut or tax? but a lot of whether or not we are going to be fiscally sustainable and have a reasonable budget in the coming years is about things that we'll grow. particularly research, a lot of the major industries today from the internet to biotech have a big federal budget behind them like we talked about in the past. if we cut deep into the areas of budget and slower growth in the future, that is counterproductive cutting, a lot of people think it helps. it is definitely not true. >> no, it is not true. and right now we cut the programs, that they call discretionary budgets, worst term in the budget.
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we have cut that already, we don't need to cut it anymore. what we need to do is gradually reduce the rate of growth. not cut, but reduce the rate of growth of the programs, mostly for older people that are scheduled to go up so rapidly in the future. >> and now, what do you think of the president's early pre-k proposal? and in particular, what do you think of the ideas of the states to create early childhood programs and just make them meet quality measures instead of creating sort of a big federal program and administering it? >> oh, i think it is absolutely right. many states have done a good job on pre-k schooling already. north carolina, several others have done really good work. and i think this ought to be an area like most of elementary school and secondary education that the states are in charge of. and we ought to integrate head start into that. head start is a federal program
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but it is not integrated into the other state pre-school program. >> right, i totally agree on head start. one big question is the way they want to fund it. one way they will do it is the way the states match, the way medicaid is today. that worries me because states have been pretty strapped recently. i mean, do you think it will be enough to get states to move forward with it? >> i think we have to think about this very carefully. because as you say, states are mostly in trouble anyway. they have had -- they have suffered in the recession, and some of the revenue sources are not growing. so they may not be able to come up with the matching money. this is a problem for medicaid, as well. >> alice rivlin, great to see you as always. great to see you. senator elizabeth warren's first at bat, she hit it out of the park, next. you know who is here tonight? very exciting. the science guy is here tonight. i am not even kidding.
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yesterday was valentine's day, now, i like valentine's day. i love it. i'm romantic. i don't know if i should admit this. but my taste in movies leans, or maybe i sure honest and say runs at full tilt as fast as it possibly can, towards romantic comedies. but my taste in politics runs to graphs. so i give you wonky love,
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valentine's day's graphs and charts. feast your eyes on this beauty. it is a formula when you plug it in, it graphs a heart. or a financial poll on the trajectory on the s&p, the love of the writer's life. the s&p was in the red but i was not blue, because i shorted the market and went long on you. and of course, twitter was all atwitter, with more on the love of the san francisco federal reserve. they said shall i compare thee to a fed decision? and erik gahner tweeted as well. the news, all the motor heartbreaking that we may all die from an asteroid. but i'm going to talk to a guy
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economic meltdown, and even i was mad at wall street. at this point, who can pinpoint who brought it down -- and yet, the maddow blazer wearing ezra klein holders are asking for bankers to go to jail, why can't they just let by-gone pensions be by-gones? >> elizabeth warren's big moment? democrats were excited when elizabeth warren was elected to the senate. she was smart, a fire brand, smart on consumer protection issues. i was excited because we had somebody in the senate who finally was truly a finance wonk, had expertise on the issue. then this was the whole question of whether the lobbyists would manage to keep her off the
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banking committee. they didn't manage to keep her off. they gave her a spot on the committee. the committee has oversight over wall street, looking at much of the crisis. and this is important, they're regulators. but then something unexpected happened. in her first month in washington she kept pretty quiet, so quiet that just two days ago, politico ran this headline, the article declared that taking office, warren kept the lowest of profiles when the senate banking committee meets for the first time, all eyes will be on her. if that is any indication, she will leave her megaphone at home. she brought it to work where it belongs. sure it was a day when most were focused on chuck hagel and a cruise ship and hagel and chocolate, but it was during to hearing with the very sexy name of wall street reform, and
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consumer protection, the witnesses were seven federal financial industry regulators from places like the securities exchange commission. because elizabeth warren was a junior member of the committee, it took about an hour and a half for her to question the witnesses. when she got her turn she made the most of it, asking a really, really good question, a question that has been lingering ever since financial crisis began. >> i know there have been landmark settlements but we face very big issues with financial institutions. if they can break the law and drag in billions in profits, and then turn around and settle, paying out of those profits, they don't have much incentive to follow the law.
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it is also the case that every time there is a settlement and not a trial it means that we didn't have those days and days and days of testimony about what those financial institutions had been up to. so the question i really want to ask is about how tough you are. about how much leverage you really have in the settlements and what i would like to know is tell me a little bit about the last few times you have taken the biggest financial institutions on wall street all the way to a trial. >> when was the last time the federal government took a wall street bank to trial? that is a great mystery of the financial crisis and it has never really been answered to my satisfaction. why have there not been more prosecutions and trials? and yesterday, the federal regulators in attendance had to come up with an answer and do it under oath. here is what happened. >> the institutions i supervise national banks, we've actually
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had a fair number of consent orders, we do not have to bring people to -- trial or -- >> well i appreciate that you say you don't have to bring them to trial. my question is when did you bring them to trial? >> we have not had to do it as a practical matter to achieve our supervisory goals? >> ms. walter? >> i will have to get back to the with the specific information, but we do litigate and do have settlements that are either rejected by the commissioner not put forward. >> okay, we have multiple people here, anyone else want to tell me the last time you took a wall street bank to trial? >> no one did, no regulator could remember the last time they took a wall street bank to trial. biggest financial crisis in history, nobody had anything. and the answers they gave didn't seem like to good answers to me, or that great of answers to elizabeth warren either. >> you know, i just want to note on this, there are district attorneys and u.s. attorneys who
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are out there every day squeezing ordinary citizens on sometimes very thin grounds. and taking them to trial in order to make an example, as they put it. i'm really concerned that too big to fail has become too big for trial. that just seems wrong to me. >> joining me now is reporter and new york times columnist, winning on questionable causes on wall street, jesse, good to see you. >> hi. >> i want to start with the very basic question, could these regulators have taken more banks to trial? did they have the authority, the power, the cause? >> of course, the sec can take banks to trial civilly, and they can refer cases criminally to the department of justice, now, that is really where the crux of
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this lies is the power here and the disappointment is mainly with the department of justice, why they haven't brought more cases against the banks, either civilly or criminally and why they haven't brought the ceos, major bankers to trial for their actions. >> so now, let's go into that why. i know you asked people, why didn't they? why are there no examples as they were after the great depression? why are there so few examples of a serious trial, or anybody going to jail? >> it is an appaling failure, one reason is that the securities and exchange commission is running scared. they don't have much trial experience, they have lost trials. they brought a mid-level citigroup banker to trial in a case and lost. that scares them. the eastern district of the department of justice brought a case against two low level bear
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stearns to trial. they lost, so losing really scares these guys. but the real question is, they have been afraid to indict companies because they believe it will put them out of business and cause systemic problems. or these things are complex, they don't necessarily understand them and worry the juries wouldn't understand them. and they think well, it is hard to prove that there were any crimes here. >> so i have heard that, too, and particularly a few years ago, they didn't want to do what they like to call old testament justice, they worried about the markets, getting the credit back up. that was the main priority. the financial sector is stronger now, the profits look better, they're in significantly better shape. so is this just over, like maybe not the statute of limitations but a political limitation has run out? or is there still a possibility
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that there is new leadership at the sec, is there still a possibility that we'll see some of the trials going back wards? >> i am deeply skeptical about it. i think the ship has sailed. and i think the reason is one statute of limitations, but that is not really a real issue, they have under statutes under which to bring these things. but i think the investigations have largely gone dry. lehman brothers has largely gone dry. aig has largely gone dry. now note, there was no systemic implications of prosecuting people, because aig was not out of business but the individuals had left. lehman was out of business. so that is a poor excuse. now whether we've -- seen the department of justice in los angeles just bring a case against standard and poors, the credit rating agency, for activities leading up to the crisis. so there may be activities
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trickling in, but there are going to be no major cases brought against j.p. morgan, merrill lynch, for any -- lehman, bear stearns, for any of their activities. and that leaves us with a big question on what led up to the financial crisis. >> jesse eisinger, thank you. >> thank you. why 700,000 miles are close in space, and why there were so many stars in the sky. bill nye the science guy will join me. male nouncer ] wow. a brave choice. okay, focus. think courage. think shaun white. think how perfect they'll be for outdoor crafts. mr. white. [ male announcer ] they're good for circulation. plus, they're totally practical. yeah, freedom. scan me. stride on, pale-legged, short-shorts guy. ♪ all stations come over toed, mithis is for real this time. step seven point two one two.
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i've got this graph and it is the best reason to raise the minimum wage, and i'm going to show it to you next.
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>> minimum wage ♪ ♪ ♪ yeah! >> corporate profits have skyrocketed to all-time highs. but for more than ten years, wages and incomes have barely moved. tonight, let's declare that in the wealthiest nation on earth, no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty and raise the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour. >> to understand the case for minimum wage increase, to understand why the minimum wage matters unusually right now, you need to understand this graph. that red line shows what has been happening to corporate profits since the '70s, what corporations were making.
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the blue line is what workers get. that red line, that corporate line has been going way up. way up. profits for big businesses are booming. but the average worker's share of the spoils, the blue line is falling. so corporations are making more, but workers, workers are getting less. now here is what it means, workers are losing their power in the economy, losing the power, the ability to go into the boss's office and say i need a raise. and you need to give it to me. now you can blame any number of things for that, machines doing jobs people once did, loss of union power, globalization, but in the end it all comes down to one thing, workers losing their power and ability to bargain for higher wages. and this problem is only getting
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worse since the recession ended. a study done last month by the university of california berkeley, says the top 1% captured 121% of the income gains in the recovery. the top 1% captured 121% of the income gains in the first two years of the recovery. now, how did the 1% get 121% of the income gains? because the 99% of the other incomes fell, they fell even as the economy was recovering, the country was growing again. even as corporate profits were hitting record highs. the people who lost the most power in the economy are the folks at the very bottom of the economic ladder, the folks making minimum wage, the folks without many skills. and that is what the federal government is trying to correct when it raises the minimum wage. it is doing for the least powerful workers what they don't have to power to do for themselves, demand a raise and get it. minimum way increases are not perfect policy. they don't have a big effect on employment in either direction, but if they have any effect it is a little bit negative.
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some small businesses really can't afford to raise wages, some big businesses, if they have to pay more money, they may install more automated jobs. paul krugman says it is better to raise the tax increases than the wages, saying to respond to the profits, tax the rich and use that revenue. use it to send a check to americans working for low wages. not just minimum wage, but low wages all across the board. that way you don't hit small businesses who can't afford it and do get a contribution from big mega-profitable businesses that don't hire minimum wage workers. and that is what the obama white house believed, textbook you notice they didn't push a minimum wage increase in the first term. they tried to use the tax code, the making way tax cut, part of the stimulus that gave a refundable tax cut, for individuals and married
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taxpayers. but republicans refused to renew it in 2011. next, the republicans tried a cut in the payroll tax, but the republicans and some in the president's own party refused to extend it into 2013. that helped every worker, not just the ones making the least. but with no more big options, of course the president is turning to the increase in minimum wage. now maybe that increase won't pass. in fact, it very likely wouldn't pass. >> when you raise the price of employment, guess what happens? you get less of it. in a time when the american people are still asking the question where are the jobs why would we want to make it harder for small employers to hire people? >> just want to say the research is not nearly that clear. but he does control the house of representatives. so it may not pass. so you know what else the minimum wage is? it is incredibly popular, one of the most popular in the american government. if a minimum wage increase never makes it out of the republican-controlled house, you
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can pretty much guarantee the democrats will remind voters of it over and over, hammering the republicans for minimum wage. and if they get it, they will get the minimum wage increase. that happened when they elected george w. bush signing a minimum wage increase into law in 2007. because that is the thing. even as the 99% lose their wages in the economy, they're not losing out their power in our democracy, and so if republicans don't like the minimum wage as a policy, if they want something better than they need an alternative, an answer to the graph. an answer to workers losing their power, because the market is not fixing this on its own. and because this graph is not just about economics. this graph is about politics, too, you can't have that blue line go down much longer before you decide it is time for people to go down to the ballot box and do something to stop it. meteorites in russia, bill nye, the science guy, that is next. [ snoring ]
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something a little weird about russia is that tons of russians have video cameras in their cars, as if any moment ashton kutcher may run up to them and film a moment. the reason they have the camera, there are a ridiculous number of traffic accidents, there are so many hit-and-run claims that russian insurance companies refuse to cover damages unless the drivers can prove who the offender is, how do you prove that? with your dashboard camera, of course. today, those, those dashboard cameras caught something even scarier than traffic. here in russia, something
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unusual crazy happened, something down in the morning traffic and the existence of putin. during the commute, a fire ball, a meteor fell to earth, damaging about 3,000 buildings and injuring more than a thousand people, but most of the injuries were from shattered glass, and then later, an asteroid about half the size of a football field came within at least 17,000 miles from the earth. in scientist's terms, that is not very far. there are weather satellites farther away from that. scientists say if that had hit the earth, it would have been a thousand times more powerful than the nuclear bomb that hit hiroshima. last time an asteroid hit the earth was in 1908, when once again, russia was a target. it wiped out 100 square miles. the best way to put this, i am terrified.
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so i felt better when my colleague at "the washington post" wrote, do we really need to add tiny killer meteors to the list of things to worry about? probably not. he said the meteor that hit russia today, those types usually hit unhabited places. in fact there is no documented case of a meteor killing a person. so problem solved. it was, i felt better. another friend began his piece today and i quote" space is out to kill you." spencer. and he went on to say that the whole armageddon scenario, where we try to blow up the asteroid coming at us, is not possible. are they out to kill us? are we totally safe? there is only one man that can clear up the confusion. joining me now, bill nye the
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science guy. bill, an honor to see you. >> ezra, it is great to see you. and the answer to your question, are we perfectly safe? is the universe out to kill us? is somewhere between -- >> well -- >> there is no evidence -- >> say again. >> that is not all that comforting, i wanted to be perfectly safe. >> oh, but here is the deal. we humans, through the process of science, the best idea humans have ever had, we can do something about it. so here is the idea. the -- by the way, asteroid 2012 da-14 was discovered by a grant from the planetary society of -- i admit, i'm biased, i'm the ceo. astronomers have developed these areas. it represents the number that we have catalogued represents about 1% of the asteroids that are out
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there of that class. so there are another 99% that could do damage that would be -- what i like to call a city killer. a little bit bigger than that, you have a county killer. bigger than that, you have a country killer, not so much farther, you have a world killer. so what we can do, if we can assay these and survey these and make a catalogue, we can do something about it, as long as we have enough time. >> what can we do? >> well, if we found a county killer coming up, what could we do? >> three things, the key is you want to go out there and just ever so slightly slow it down or ever so slightly speed it up so that when it crosses the earth's orbit, we are not there.